In a three-part series this week, NPR took on the persistent problem of antipsychotics in nursing homes. While many nursing home providers and policy makers have trumpeted the recent reductions in overall antipsychotic use, the NPR stories reminded us why the problem demands our continued vigilance. Part 1 reviewed some very bad cases of antipsychotic misuse in California nursing homes. Part 2 criticized the federal government’s effort to enforce nursing home rules regarding antipsychotic misuse and Part 3 focused on the good dementia care practices at Ecumen nursing homes in Minnesota that have led to dramatic decreases in antipsychotic usage.
The NPR series does a great job of telling the story of antipsychotics in nursing homes: a frightening tale of chemical restraints from overmatched and frustrated nursing home staff, fostered by governmental failures, that is only now being rescued by the humane, comfort-centered approaches to care finally getting their due.